Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy Hearts

Honey Nut Cheerios hits a home run

Honey Nut CheeriosHoney Nut Cheerios is one of General Mill’s flagship brands. The cereal market is in a death spiral (read our in-depth market study on the cereal and breakfast category here) as tastes and consumer patterns change. Breakfast cereal used to be the staple food at breakfast tables across the globe but times have changed.

Honey Nut CheeriosThe venerable brands of my youth (Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Post Raisin Bran, Wheaties and even Cheerios) are hard at work trying to expand the market.

Time was all of the advertising dollars was directed at kids. Even Wheaties (the breakfast of champions) was targeted at getting kids to prefer the cereal over other choices. Today, more and more brands are simply trying to expand the traditional audience by including adults in the advertising too. Most to little effect.

The reason for the failure is that brand permission does not come by simply featuring the target audience in the communication. You need to have the target audience say to themselves, “I want to be that.”

Enter Honey Nut Cheerios

The Cheerios parent brand has been talking heart healthy for many years now. There seems to be no dissenting voices in science that there are REAL benefits to oats (oat bran in particular) in the health and vitality of the human heart. But the message of heart healthy has done very little to expand the category and, while one of the more successful rebrands in the cereal market, Cheerios has continued to disappoint despite outperforming many others in the category.

But the Healthy Hearts Stay Young campaign may be a real game changer.

The commercial has the mandatory adult and child but the similarity ends here. The spots are an exuberant and charming combination of energy and brand without the usual feature of focusing only on the product. The spots are mesmerizing and are so well produced that you find yourself stopping on the commercial when channel surfing. The main spot is THAT good. The supporting spots are less powerful because it is the adult in the main commercial that is most appealing.

Stop the other branded slop.

General Mills Logo Honey Nut CheeriosThis campaign truly builds brand preference. I want to be THAT and I’m sure I am not alone. The precocious child is overshadowed by the talented adult and it is her movement and agility that holds sway in the spot. I simply can’t take my eyes off her and even see the little girl as a distraction. Despite the lack of traditional brand identification, I remembered this commercial as being all about Honey Nut Cheerios. It worked.

Scrap the silly honey bee, General Mills. He (or she) may be cute but the commercials are all about YOU and the natural ingredients. You took the bold step of making your prospects feel that they want to be part of the club and we don’t need any rational reasons why your honey came from bees. To my knowledge, all honey comes from bees.

A few words on Kellogg’s

Walmart to use Uber so you live better

Leave it to Walmart to be on the forefront of retail technology. While the retail giant hasn’t always been on top of things (VUDU came along years after Netflix owned the streaming video market), it remains the one other retailers follow.

I’ve mentioned many times before that the problem with Walmart’s competition is that the Targets and Kmarts of the world simply copy what Walmart is doing and hope it will help sales. However, that just makes things equal. And, with all things being equal, the market leader wins.

Walmart
Walmart will offer more than just curbside service. It will bring your groceries to your door.

Now comes word that Walmart is experimenting with an online shopping service that brings your goods right to your door. Here’s how it works: You order your goods (including groceries) online. An associate gathers up your order then calls Uber or Lyft to deliver it to your door.

Obviously, there’s a fee involved, but it should be enormously easy for the shopper. Walmart pays the driver and you just pay the total (plus fee) online. What could be simpler than that?

The idea of online shopping at grocery stores is not necessarily new. Target has been experimenting with what it calls Curbside and Kroger is working on a ClickList service. The problem with those programs is that customers pick their goods up at the store. They are not delivered.

Even my local Harris Teeter does that.

Why Walmart will make this a success.

Experts in retail have been predicting that online shopping for grocery stores is going to happen regardless, but note that chains have had a hard time making any money from it. Especially when their main brand promise is price. (That is, they must be careful that the service is not too expensive.) In addition, big box stores like Target feed off the browsing component to their sales because the stores themselves are so large. Online shopping, by definition, doesn’t offer that kind of distraction as well.

Walmart, however, will make this a success because it has a delivery component (therefore, challenging Amazon, even if just a little bit) and its brand says: Save money. Live better.

It’s the second line – Live better – that’s the key to giving it permission to use Uber and Lyft drivers. If all the competition can offer is a curbside service and a brand promise that only copies the market leader, then Walmart will continue to win.

The Bayer Monsanto merger needs your attention

The world of crop protection, if you’re not aware, is both important and cutthroat. And it’s something of which we should all pay attention.

There are a handful of main competitors who are either constantly battling the EPA or fighting environmentalists along side the regulatory agency, depending on your bent.

Bayer Monsanto
Growing crops is about to get a whole lot more expensive.

It’s also a changing industry. The main players, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, have long been under fire because their lead products were pesticides. Those chemicals raised the hackles of environmental groups and have spawned thousands (if not millions) of papers, editorials and books (started by Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring.)

Today, however, those manufacturers are increasing their investment in seeds, which are genetically modified to increase crop growth and stave off infection from pests and disease.

That is why Bayer is offering $62 billion for Monsanto, the largest seed producer in the US, for a Bayer Monsanto merger I can see happening.

The pitfalls of the Bayer Monsanto merger to you.

There are positive and negative outcomes of this proposed merger, starting with the benefit the companies themselves would receive. The battlefield now is over combined resources, especially worldwide, to increase research and development, and also to enter into developing markets.

The power of the seed market is that the next worldwide shortage is promising to be food. The population of the Earth is increasing but the amount of farmland is not. The only way to meet the world’s future needs is to make crops more robust and stir up agricultural production in those developing countries.

Leaving aside the potential negative effect of genetically modified seeds, the effect on the farmer – and the US economy – is potentially deadly. Mergers are becoming the norm in crop protection, with Dow and DuPont joining forces last year and rumors of Chinese companies interested in Syngenta still circulating.

Mergers mean less competition and less competition means higher prices.

Keeping track of the mergers in crop protection is not usually top of mind for consumers but they are important developments to notice. Seeds are seen as a healthier alternative to pesticides, but more research to needs to be done.

But sticker shock will soon be coming to your nearby grocery store. In the US, we take for granted what is available and what food costs. However, a Bayer Monsanto merger will change all that. Prepare to spend more of your dollar at the grocery store.

The Amazon perishable effort will succeed

It’s not just retailers that are threatened by Amazon. Now, supermarkets will be too.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the online retail giant is slated to offer a new line of private-label brands, including perishable foods.

Amazon perishable
The Amazon perishable goods initiative will work.

As the report elaborated, these goods will first be available to Prime members as another nice perk to add to the $99 a year membership. (Thank goodness I have one.)

What’s more, the Amazon perishable initiative will join forces with brands like Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime, and Mama Bear. Doing so will allow the company to offer cooking oil, vitamins, coffee, tea, spices and nuts.

The Amazon perishable effort will succeed because of its brand.

While I have only once bought perishable food from Amazon — I had an unyielding craving for coconut covered cashews — I bought a top of the line brand and I ended spending a bit more than I wanted.

Now, overspending on select brands doesn’t have to be the case. I can choose an Amazon select brand for a fraction of the cost and feel satisfied with my purchase. Because of the trust I have in Amazon, I have the confidence that the product will be of quality. A hunch that I am not alone in that thinking.

Granted, the offerings are slim for the moment, but so was the Amazon Music catalog when it first began, and now it’s one of my favorites to frequent.

It’s a known fact. If your desire is to influence preference and increase market share, then it is a given that you must have a better understanding of your target audiences. And the Amazon perishable move is a perfect example of that awareness.

How many times have you thought how nice it would be to order your food from Amazon, have it shipped and be done with it? I have a lot. This is Amazon dipping its toe in the water of that reality. Before we know it, this Amazon Produce (UK based) and Amazon Fresh (select US cities) will be available for all of us as one entity. When that occurs, supermarkets had better watch out.

Food Lion had it, then lost it

There’s no further proof that Walmart has spooked the supermarket category with its own grocery than the increased advertising presence of Food Lion.

In many areas of the country, including my own here in North Carolina, Food Lion was the low-cost provider among supermarkets. It was low down, even a little bit country. It was the place you shopped for cheap prices.

Then Walmart moved in. Along the busiest street near me, Walmart established its grocery store just a few blocks down from a once-thriving Food Lion. In nothing time flat, that store closed.

A few years ago, the grocery chain shot back with a campaign built around a brand equity marker, the Lion. At first, it was a talking lion that told shoppers that buying at Food Lion was just good sense.

It didn’t really work because it was just telling potential customers to shop for price, a battle Walmart is sure to win.

The topsy-turvy advertising of Food Lion.

But a few months ago, Food Lion went the emotional route. It kept the lion but imbued it with a sense of protection, being a guardian angel of sorts for a child. It was emotional and I thought the grocer had hit a nice, sweet spot.

Food Lion, however, was impatient. Just a few weeks later, it was back to promoting price. In its new spot, the grocer announced that it will always have fresh produce, which is a table stake. You must have fresh produce to even be considered in the first place.

Then, the ad explains that the produce is “100% fresh, or double your money back.”

I understand the instinct here. Food Lion is attempting to overcome its old reputation from a few years ago where some of its produce was not fresh. And it’s fine that it has the guarantee.

But those are not reasons to choose. As I’ve said many times before, preference is based on emotion, not product benefits. That’s the reason why we buy so many things, only to rationalize the emotional reason to choose with rational ones.

Food Lion had done something few supermarkets have attempted in the past when it went the emotional route. Now, going back to product benefits means Walmart and others will be back to closing its competitor’s stores.